Management & Leadership

The role of coaching in human resource management

Nov 24, 2017

In today’s ultra-competitive business world, many organisations are losing talent and struggling to retain employees.

With executive leadership, in particular, turning over with increasing frequency, it is now more important than ever to pay attention to the leadership-development programmes within businesses. After all, good leadership is critical for driving revenue, engaging employees, and achieving and maintaining high overall productivity.

But is leadership-development coaching best facilitated by the human resources team? And how, if you are an HR professional, do you go about convincing your company executives that it is an urgent priority? We asked Laura Evans, a graduate of the SACAP School of Coaching & Leadership

Q: Why is leadership-development coaching critical in an organisation?

A: Coaching is an emerging industry, relatively new to the corporate world. Its application can be beneficial to the full span of an organisation’s hierarchy, however, it is currently used mostly at a top-management and executive level. The growing interest in coaching interventions can be attributed to the increasing demands of the competitive business market. A profitable business requires competent, productive and flexible leaders and employees. Coaching interventions are able to support the discovery and development of these desirable attributes.

Coaching empowers individuals to cultivate a self-deterministic approach to work demands. Studies show that employees who are able to self-regulate and self-motivate are not only more productive, but happier and more committed to the businesses they work for. Employees are not machines; they are human beings. This in and of itself is an advantage to most companies – machines cannot replace their own broken parts. However, through coaching, employees can be supported to develop resilience and regenerate on their own.

Q: Why is this type of coaching best facilitated by the HR team?

A: Coaching interventions are best facilitated by HR for two key reasons. Firstly, it is becoming widely acknowledged that human capital is a resource that can deliver an exceptional return on investment, if managed in the correct way. For this reason, human resources professionals are playing an increasingly strategic role in forward-thinking businesses. The pressure is on for HR to increase employee retention and productivity. Coaching can be used as a tool to facilitate these desired results. The coaching process itself, is non-directive and requires no content from the coach. This enables an HR professional to efficiently coach any employee, regardless of his or her job specification or level of expertise.

Secondly, the success of a coaching intervention is largely dependent on the quality of the relationship between coach and client. Trust must be present, as it allows clients to show themselves authentically and get maximum benefit from the process as a result. HR, by functional design, deals with employees’ personal matters and performance. A relationship of trust and open communication would usually already exist between this department and employees. Coaching can seamlessly fit into, and support, this close relationship.

Q: What are some of the biggest hurdles HR professionals face in convincing company executives that leadership coaching is an urgent priority?

A: There is a common misconception that soft skills are “soft”, and have a negligible impact on a business’s bottom line. It can be challenging for HR professionals to acquire funding and executive buy-in to coaching interventions, especially as they are often perceived as emotionally driven spheres of interest.

Q: What selling points can HR professionals use to help gain the approval for leadership coaching from those in charge?

A: HR can highlight the tangible and measurable benefits that leadership and business coaching can offer. Corporate case studies, comparable key performance indicators, employee survey results and key stakeholder testimonials are a few examples of evidential support that can be used to encourage the introduction of coaching into a business. As the coaching industry grows, so will the evidence-based support of this intervention, which will, of course, be helpful to HR professionals.

Currently, due to budget restraints and the emerging nature of the industry, coaching is mostly used at an executive and top management level. Coaching interventions support leaders to achieve goals related to personal development within the working space. Topics ranging from time management to interpersonal relationships are coached on, successfully impacting the functioning of the business itself. Success stories of executive coaching can consequently be used to support the introduction of coaching at lower levels of the organisation. In my opinion, coaching can be transformational at every level of a business’s hierarchy, not just in leadership roles.

SACAP’s Graduate School of Coaching & Leadership offers a number of coaching programmes, from a five month Coach Practitioner Programme to a two year Post Graduate Diploma in Coaching. All programmes are aligned with the International Coach Federation (ICF) and COMENSA. To find out more, enquire now.

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